Sunday, April 20, 2014

Dandelions by Eve Bunting {A Must Read Mentor Text for Westward Expansion and much more!}

Hey there!  Happy Easter!

I'm here today to share a text that is fabulous for Social Studies, but also fantastic for making inferences!!  I thought for sure I had shared this text before, but I couldn't find it so I MUST share it now!!
My must read for this week is Dandelions by Eve Bunting.  If you've read our blog at all, you know we love Eve Bunting!  She is a fantastic author who creates work that students can make inferences about. The books are also great mentor texts for author's craft in writing.  Plus, she writes historical fiction, so it can be integrated!  So, of course we love her!
First off, the illustrations by Greg Shed are gorgeous!!
Here is the synopsis from Amazon:Embarking on a new life, Zoe and her family journey west to the Nebraska Territory in the 1800s.  When Zoe and her family arrive at their claim, nothing distinguishes it from the miles and miles of surrounding prairie. Even after they build their soddie, the home can't be seen from any distance. Zoe has never seen Papa so happy or Mama so sad. But when she takes a trip to the small prairie town with Papa, Zoe sees something that might make a difference to their new soddie, and to Mama's life, too.

Beware, it's a very sweet story but it also makes you feel very sad.  Throughout the story, the reader is making inferences on how the narrator's mom feels about moving west, and she is mostly very sad.  The little girl is constantly trying to make her mama happy.  It's just so sweet, and it gives the reader a good idea of what it might have been like to move west.

They endure the trail west, see nothing but prairie for miles, and find their claim in Nebraska.  Nothing looks different, it's just endless prairie.  They make a soddie, a house made of sod, that blends into the rest of the prairie.  Zoe's mom is constantly worried that the girls will get lost and not be able to find their way home because everything looks the same.  Their nearest neighbors are 3 hours away and there is no water.  It explains how they build their soddie, dig a well, and how they plant their first seeds and just how much work it really was, even for the kids!

Here's a picture of the soddie.  It tells in the book that while they were eating dinner at the neighbor's (it's their soddie) chunks of sod fell on the table.  Then, two black beetles fell.  It's details like this that you just don't think about!

Spoiler Alert!!!  If you don't want to know what happens, skip this paragraph and the picture!  When Zoe, the little girl, goes to the prairie town, she sees a patch of dandelions on the side of the road.  She asks her papa to dig them up because she wants to give them to her mom for a birthday gift.  And, her idea is to plant the dandelions on the roof of the house so that her mama will never have to worry again about where their house is.  Isn't that the sweetest??  There are also many metaphors in the book about the strength of the dandelions and the strength of the family.  Such a sweet book!!
This is the last page of the book.  (Sorry for the horrible picture- I have yet to figure out how to take pictures of a book without it being crooked!!)  I'm inferring that this is what their soddie looked like after the dandelions spread.

So, I strongly recommend this book.  Not just if you teach Westward Expansion.  If you teach Language Arts, it's a great book for inferring.  Truly.  So much so, that I made a unit to go with it two years ago!

Also, I'm very excited to share that I FINALLY finished the Westward Expansion articles that I have been working on for two weeks!!!  Wahoo!!!  We are going to use these in our Social Studies interactive journals for our unit that starts on Wednesday!!  These articles are based on what we need to teach in 4th grade in GA.  However, they would be great for nonfiction close reading, even if you don't teach this, plus you can use them to differentiate in grades 4-6!  The vocabulary makes it challenging for 4th graders, which is why we do it together, but if you teach a higher grade, this could possibly be done independently.
There are interactive notebook activities and flipbooks with each article (just like our American Revolution Articles).
As well as questions for each article.
Stacia started using them on Friday, and this is what her students' journal looks like.  They highlighted key information in the article that helped them fill out the flipbook about causes and effects of the Louisiana Purchase.
Oh, and if you can use these nonfiction articles for your Westward Expansion unit, you can check them out in our TpT Store. can pin it to win it!!  Yep, you got it!!  You have the chance to win them!!

Here is the pin:

Click on the pin and repin it.  Then, copy the URL of your pin and paste it in the comments.  Also, leave your email address so if you win, I know where to send it!  I'll choose two winners!!  

I hope you try out Dandelions!  It's such a great book!!  Also, since I totally messed up the link up this month, we still have the 4th Sunday next week.  I thought we could do favorite spring books or favorite end of the year books.  Basically anything you want for any subject!!!  :O)

Also, I'm thinking we will probably stop doing the Must Read Mentor Text Linky over the summer.  May will be our last month and then we MIGHT start it back in August or we may not...we just aren't sure.  However, we will continue to share wonderful books we have found, even if we don't have a link up.  :O)

Have a wonderful Easter!

Next week's linky- Favorite Spring or End of the Year Books


  1. The unit looks great! Thanks for the opportunity to win.


  2. Your unit looks really fantastic! I wish we studied American history in 3rd! I have this book in my collection and love it. Thanks for sharing it!


  3. You sold me on the book, I am a huge fan of Bunting! Love your synopsis and your product! Wow, what an inspiration. I have a book in mind to blog about today, will try to link up late. Hope continue this next year, I love reading the links and when I am not buried deep I love to link up. Have a wonderful Sunday!

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.


    Thank you
    Happy Easter!!!

  6. Hi~I love this book. I read it to my class this year but I learned a lot more about how I plan to use it next year from this post! Thanks so much for sharing and for hosting the party today. Happy Easter!
    Creating Lifelong Learners


    I'm not a fan of this book. I find it to be too dense and sad. But your ideas are so amazing, I'm curious if they would help add a little flavor to this book.

  8. I've never heard of this book before, sounds like one for me to pass on to other teachers who cover this topic. Happy Easter!
    Short and Sassy Teacher

  9. I love Dandelions and all of Eve Bunting's books! Your new product looks amazing! I don't teach that content, but could definitely use it for close reading! :)
    P.S. What's this nonsense about not having a mentor text linky?? NO WAY! We can start repeating books we've used and how we've used them differently! :)
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  10. I LOVE Dandelions! We used it a few weeks ago, and my kids loved it too. They even found a book from our little readers that came with the anthology that is very similar! :o) It helps them realize that not all books have a "good feeling" when you read them- this one does have a sad undertone with Mama, but it really helps the students connect to the sadness of leaving everything you know. Thanks for making a great unit for it too!

    And so excited for the Westward Expansion articles!!


  11. Awesome new unit!! I bought your Dandelions pack last year, have it planned to use in the next couple of weeks. Thanks for all of your hard work ladies! :)

    Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road

  12. I haven't read the book, but will look into buying it from Amazon! Thanks for the opportunity to win. Here's my pin:

  13. This is awesome!

  14. I love your blog! I am an ELA/SS curriculum coordinator in Texas, and although our state stardards are different, I always find ways to align them. Your mentor text are always my favorites, too. Way to go and thanks for sharing! :)

    Love your units!

  16. Gasp! What am I going to do on Sundays after May - I am sure you will send me an email with the books you are using and pictures from your classroom - am I right??? I will have to savour each Sunday : )
    Hope you ladies had an amazing Easter!!

  17. I love Dandelions and am going to go put your unit on my wishlist! Here is the link to my repin:
    Thanks! Jen (jen@grillo1.com0



    This looks incredible! Thanks for the chance to win:)

  20. This looks like a great book. I can't wait to read it.


  21. I don't know if you've selected a winner yet or not, but my fourth grade teaching partner and I love, love, love your site and use it all the time, especially for finding mentor texts! We just started our unit on Westward Expansion and used "Dandelions" today. The students loved it! If you've already awarded the prize, I'll be buying the materials this week!



We love comments!! Like, super love them!! We like to reply by email (so you can see our response and we can chat back and forth) so please make sure that option is turned on in your profile settings or leave your email address here! Thanks again for taking time to comment!! It means a lot!!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...